Peace of God

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How I need reminder of verses like these lately. Peace. I long for peace. Even when I’m 99.9% there, there’s a sliver of doubt. I keep coming back to. It’s natural to feel doubts, and others encourage me not to beat myself up when they creep in, because it is so natural. But I tend to be hard on myself. I love this verse, because faith isn’t proof. Faith is faith. And it’s not by sight. And as long as I am living by faith, that leaves room for doubt. It does not necessarily mean it’s there. It just means there is room for it. But this verse, and several others that offer a similar reminder, give me a tool to rest in faith and put the doubt away… namely, prayer.

Sometimes it’s hard, though. Sometimes, I can’t utter one word in prayer. Today, a dear friend stopped by to drink tea and visit with me. We ended up drinking coffee and eating Christmas cookies instead. And we laughed. And we cried. And she let me pour my heart out as acceptingly as she let me pour cream into her coffee… wanting to hear my heart every bit as much as she welcomed having her coffee just the way she likes it. It was a well-received, unspoken invitation, because everything on my heart was all right there, ready to spill out. Like the tears that followed. Her instant reaction was to get out of her chair and kneel by my side and be that voice in prayer that I sometimes can’t. Often can’t. So she prayed for me… and for peace, requesting that He would help me with all those things I’m struggling with… much of what I mentioned here yesterday.

I realized tonight that I might just use this space almost like a diary until I can gather my thoughts enough to use it as story-telling journal. I’ll just write about my day, even if I can’t write about the big picture or bring myself to recount the events of the 19th or the nine months that led up to it.

We drove back to the funeral home today. This time, to bring the sweet little wooden box we found to have Anysia’s ashes placed into. For some reason, I was not expecting that we would be taking it back home with us, only now filled. But they had her ashes ready for us. So the director put them in the box, we wrote a check for their services, and we walked out the door with a box no mother should ever have to carry. A tiny little box. I let out some sort of wail when I sat down in my car seat and shut the door. And as of 11pm, I still haven’t been able to open the box to view her ashes. I don’t think I’ll be ready for that for a while yet.

Mr. B. and I held hands while we had a good cry and then just sat in silence. Then Izzy, in true Izzy-break-the-silence-fashion, did just that from his back seat… broke the silence. I think he was back there thinking…

What the h.e.double.hockey.sticks is going on up there?

And he impatiently blurted out, “Dada, can you start the car?” He was waiting for us to drive to the market to pick up eggnog, after all. Mr. B. and I just bust up laughing. And this is why, to this day, I still believe we chose the perfect name for him. Isaac is laughter.

I’ve been getting so many thoughtful texts from people, starting the couple days before Anysia’s birth, then a flood of them on the day of, and many sprinkled throughout the days since. My text storage is full, and I always have to delete something in order to receive new incoming texts that are waiting in the cue. It pains me to delete a single text I’ve received along the way, because they are just some of the most thoughtful words. I wish I knew of a way to save them without sitting and typing out every single one. But I don’t.
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My last thoughts before I retire… I’m finding reminders of her in the strangest places. Well, I guess not strange. But just not the ways I expected to think of her. For instance, tonight was the first time since we have been home that I gave Izzy a bath. Up until tonight, I was still too sore and still healing where my stitches are. But tonight, I sat there at the side of the tub, and it dawned on me that I can bathe him without feeling any discomfort… because she is no longer there in my belly making it very difficult to kneel and bend down alongside the tub. Same for our tucking-in ritual. Toward the end of the pregnancy with Anysia, I could no longer even sit on the floor next to Isaac’s bed to stay with him “for couple minutes”, as he likes to put it… because I was just too large. Bathing him for the first time and tucking him in for the first time since we’ve been home… a week now… I felt sad that I was able to do those things again. It only reminded me that she is no longer in there… in a place where I was able protect her and prolong her life just by living myself. She was in no danger there, at least not as long as I was not in any myself.

It was a difficult way to come to think of her, but at least I was thinking of her. And for that I am grateful. I was also grateful that I could once again do the things I love to do with my other child, so I am doubly grateful, I guess.

Still, I’m very sad this day. It’s been a good day, though. I don’t have to wonder how long it will take… I just know that time will heal. Mr. B. reminded me of that tonight when I told him how hard it is to watch a week pass by, knowing weeks will turn into months, and months into years.

But weeks, months and years are time. And time somehow heals. I remember thinking, after my dad died, that I could never again not feel the way I was feeling right then… just terribly sad and the worst sense of loss. But it has been seven years, and I can thankfully say that I’ve somehow healed. Not to say I do not miss him anymore. But the pain is gone.

This will be the case with Anysia, too. Hard to fathom right now. But something I look forward to. I still have a million questions that all fall under that really big one… “WHY?”

When my counselor wrote me back today, she said “It is so understandable that you feel the way you do. It just isn’t natural to have empty arms. It is very normal to ache for them to be filled. To miss her with anguish. It is also normal to second-guess those few hours and wonder how things might have been different. But let me assure you that you did everything well. You cherished her life and honored her. It isn’t certain that any measures you might have taken would have extended her life, and potentially might just have ended up causing her to suffer. As it was, she was held, cuddled, loved on her entire life. All she knew was love. You were at the end of your strength physically and emotionally. If she had gone {lived} a little longer you might have been asleep when she died. You would have felt like you abandoned her and feel worse than you do now.  …The book Safe In the Arms of God will be of comfort for you right now. You would know that she is indeed safe and not alone. I’m still praying!”

It’s pretty evident, even without reading what I first wrote to her to get such a response, what I have been struggling with… what doubts, what questions. She and her words of encouragement were the e-mail version of my cookie-eating friend and her visit today. They are both praying on my behalf when I’m too filled with questions to do so myself. Not to say my questions can’t be prayer enough for God. He’s pretty big… he can handle it, even if I am anxious. Plus, I don’t think that verse is an instruction from beginning to end… Don’t be anxious. Just stop being anxious, and instead pray. Then you’ll have peace. I don’t think it’s like that at all. I think it’s more like “Don’t be anxious when you don’t have to be, and here’s how… Instead, pray, and peace will fill you and leave no room for anxiety.” And with that, I can come to God with all that has me feeling unsure or anxious and commit to Him the areas where I lack peace. In fact, that is exactly how things went on the day of and day following her birth, and I believe that’s how I was able to experience those two days with such peace. I just need get back to that prayer part now.

When I don’t feel like I can, I am so grateful for the friends and family who are doing so for me. And they are many, I know.

These verses are some I’ve read countless times before. And never, before I became pregnant with my little girl, did they mean to me what they mean now. Never did I grasp onto them for dear life and take God at His word in those verses more. I’m glad my brother reminded me of them last night. They are verses we might tend to overlook, just because they are so often quoted. They may not be verses we’d want to share with someone grieving, because it might come across as “hey, get over it.” But they are some words that, if you happen to come across yourself while grieving, they are keepers… a write-it-out-big-on-the-wall-for-yourself-to-always-see reminder.

I’m off to bed to read that Safe In the Arms of God book now.

It’s been a day.
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